From RhetorClick

Jump to: navigation, search

Rather than classifying himself as a post-structuralist, Michel Foucault considered himself to be a genealogist. Differing from the structuralist view that one can map the structure of a language and that meaning meaning is to be found within the language as a whole, Foucault argued that meaning can be derived outside of what culture's discursive system dictates as true or false. Foucault believed that meaning does not come from the evolution of ideas or the misnomer, "the history of thought." He argued that using history as a system to dictate meaning was merely an anthropological attempt that created the need to categorize each thing until the meaning had been completely dispersed. Foucault believed that to rely on the belief that a general history would be able to constitute meaning is counter-intuitive and rejects the idea that differences exist, stating "a general history, on the contrary, would deploy the space of a dispersion."

Thus, Foucault argues against the history of thought as a discursive system for structure, but argues for history stripped of anthropological justification. "In short, the history of thought, of knowledge, of philosophy, of literature seems to be seeking, and discovering, more and more discontinuities, whereas history itself appears to be abandoning the irruption of events in favour of stable structures."

Rather, Foucault argued that the construction of meaning should be analyzed in the discontinuities, its differences, the fractures and fissures, within this history of thought, e.g., meaning must be established by reading in between the lines of what is evident. Meaning is established a-linearly. Foucault believed binary pairs limited the existence for meaning outside of the word's implied opposite. For example, a man who argues that their opponent is wrong- is actually blinded by the belief that the argument is binary without acknowledging the complex meaning behind the argument itself.

However, Foucault differed from Post-structuralists with two points: Firstly, he did not think that there were definite fundamental structures that could explain the human condition and secondly he thought that it was impossible to step outside of discourse and survey the situation objectively. (Jones, 1998)

Personal tools
Site Navigation
Wiki Help